Delicious Basil and Walnut Pesto – Oil and Cheese Free

Fall is in the air and my Italian roots were calling for something hearty and typical of my culture; so the other night I made butternut squash gnocchi. Wow they were delicious – but what was I going to put on them? Pesto, of course but not pesto loaded with fat and cheese.

If you also love pesto but want to avoid the calories and saturated fat in olive oil or the fat in cheese, this recipe is for you. The cannelloni beans add a creaminess and the walnuts add body and flavor. Use the freshest basil you can find this time of year. The rest is just to enjoy

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Servings:  Recipe makes 1 cup


A medium sized bunch of fresh basil

2 – 3 cloves of garlic depending on your taste

1 c raw walnuts

1 T – T water (depending on how moist you like your pesto)

½ c cannelloni beans

Salt, pepper to taste

Juice of ½ lemon

Additional 1 – 2 T water, if needed, to add at the end for consistency


Place the basil, garlic, tablespoon of water and walnuts in a food processor and process until finely blended. You may have to use a spatula to press down the mixture a couple of times.

Add the beans, a little salt, pepper and lemon juice and process together until smooth. Add water if needed and salt and pepper again if needed to taste.